The Xoloitzcuintli (pronounced SHOW-low-eats-QUEENT-lee) is one of the world’s oldest and rarest breeds. They were worshipped—and eaten—by the Aztecs, who also sacrificed them so these ancient canines could fulfill their role as guides through the underworld. Clay and ceramic figures of Xolos date back over 3000 years and have been discovered in the tombs of the Aztec, Mayan, Toltec, Zapoteca, and Colima Indians. Modern day Xolos bear a striking resemblance to these artifacts; this primitive, natural breed has remained virtually unchanged for centuries. Its reputation for possessing curative powers persists to this day in some Mexican and Central American villages. Also known as the Mexican Hairless or the shortened form of “Xolo,” the breed was paid tribute in Frida Kahlo’s art, as well as her husband, Diego Rivera’s, who, in a famous mural in Mexico City, painted one baring its teeth at the invading Spaniards as they arrived in Vera Cruz. Two varieties exist: coated, as well as the more popular “hairless” that is without fur save for a shock of hair on the top of its head. Characterized as calm, tranquil, aloof, and attentive, these dogs range in size from 10 to 50 pounds, and are grouped into three categories: miniature, standard, and toy. It is estimated there are currently fewer than 1,000 in the US, but the breed’s popularity may be on the upswing: just this year it made the AKC’s list of 170 recognized purebreds after a 50-year absence.
Dog: Kahlo; A Tail We Could Wag hand-woven Mayan-inspired collar; tailwags.com